Workout: June 19, 2013

Design Goals and Principles

  • Practice figuring out what the group already knows (vs seeking outside expertise first)
  • Practice small steps toward group engagement
  • Practice asking questions and reflecting back what you heard

Workout Plan

What Happened


  • This was largely the same design as the second session from the last bootcamp (April 17, 2013), with some tweaks. The tweaks overall seemed successful, with a few exceptions noted below.
  • Started on time, even though one person was late. That person showed up in time for the first exercise, which was good, because the backup plan wasn’t optimal (but fine). Being able to start on time even if not everyone is there requires a certain critical mass. We had it today, but it would be better if we had more participants in this regard.
  • On the other hand, the energy was fantastic with four people. We were able to do some things we couldn’t do in the previous bootcamp (with only two participants), which really helped the energy. Worried that too large of a group would affect that.
  • On the other other hand, a smaller group is not as resilient to a non-optimal participant as a larger group. My basic takeaway: The optimal size for these bootcamps is 10, maybe 12. This will enable you to still have a good group if people have to miss a session or arrive late. It’s small enough to have a good, deep conversation, and large enough to be resilient toward challenging participants. Alternatively, I could have more participants, limit “full group” discussions to eight, and have everyone else act as an observer / ethnography group.
  • The timing and pace felt very comfortable and was very close to what was allocated in the design.
  • Ended on time!
  • Participants are very engaged and supportive of each other. Very lucky! Several people noted the specific things they were practicing, which was really cool to see.
  • The room had poor lighting and ventilation along with possibly the worst whiteboards I have ever seen. Won’t be using this space again.

Listen and Reflect

  • Once again, this exercise worked very well. Moved quickly, and quickly converged on a good framework.
  • I tried something different in the frameup, where I mentioned the muscles that we’d be exercising up-front. One of the participants found this overwhelming; she was very self-conscious of practicing all of those things at once. If I continue to do this, I need to mention the primary muscle only, not all of them.
  • Forgot to mention time signals in the frameup. It worked out fine, but don’t want to forget this next time.
  • Could have done the full-group discussion successfully in 15 minutes rather than 20 (although not with a larger group). However, I loved how the ambiguity — not having me declare the conversation finished, not pre-selecting a facilitator, putting Post-Its in the middle of the room to see what happened — allowed the natural group dynamic to emerge. This will be great fodder for next week.
  • Participants were skillful throughout. Some highlights:
    • Just grabbing the markers and starting to write rather than wait around
    • People did not let unfamiliar vocabulary go unquestioned
    • Good questions and interaction. Lots of listening and acknowledgements, “yes, and” moments
    • One participant quieter than the rest, but when she jumped in, made quality contributions. Offered a good opportunity for exploration in the debrief and teaching moment around not expecting everyone to talk the same amount.
    • There were a few awkward silences, which was great — another teaching moment
    • The group declared that it was done when it felt that it was done. I gave them permission to do that, and they did it with little hesitation.
    • They came up with a solid first-pass framework!
  • I talked a lot in the debrief. I think it was okay, but I need to continue exploring the balance between teaching / coaching and simply letting people’s own insights stand without my commentary.
  • Brought the Mr. Scent markers instead of Sharpies. No complaints about the smell this time!


  • Location was much better this time. We had both the coworking space as well as the street. One pair stayed in the space, the other went out into the street, which made for diverse experiences — always a plus!
  • Clipboards with templates + guidelines seemed to be a good tweak.
  • In particular, very happy that one pair talked to mechanics. Introduced a very different perspective than the ones represented by this group.
  • Participants were very self-critical about asking leading questions. I like that they’re conscious about this, and so I’ll let it go for now, but I want to be careful about being too dogmatic about it. There are times when prompts are valuable. Requires practice to get a feel for this!!!
  • The additional data points did not enrich the framework significantly. However, asking the participants how this applied to their own work did. (I was waiting for them to do this on their own in their initial discussion, but that did not happen.) Introduced a gap in their framework around attitudinal shifts.


  • People had difficulty coming up with a question. I may have gotten too obtuse by specifying “meaning questions.” (I was also technically countering my instructions, as I encouraged people to ask deontic questions also. Need to get clearer about what I want people to do with this exercise.)

Lessons Learned

Went Well Could Be Better
  • I feel good about the tweaks I’m making week-to-week, bootcamp-to-bootcamp. I feel like I’m integrating what I’m learning effectively, and the design is starting to feel tight (in a good way).
  • First-time participant integrated nicely, as did person who came late.
  • Lots of consciousness about practice! Always great!
  • Design feels solid and comfortable.
  • Really great content discussion!
  • Nice energy in the process debriefs.
  • Participants practiced and participated skillfully.
  • I’m starting to get a better feel for how I want to integrate video into this process. We’ll see how well this works next week, when I introduce the video as part of the exercise.
  • The space was poor this week.
  • Still struggling to find balance between coaching and doing. I don’t think I’m doing badly, but I definitely could be doing better.
  • Very conscious about how to give people more concrete feedback so that they can get a more concrete sense of their progress from week-to-week. May introduce a variation of the Kangaroo Court as an informal way of doing this.

4 thoughts on “Workout: June 19, 2013

  1. Rebecca_Petzel

    To your point about introducing feedback, you may want to consider a mechanism for peer feedback. This is what we did in my masters program. All of our “grades” came from a combination of peer and teacher feedback. I grew leaps and bounds that year because of this, and was particularly grateful to my peers who were willing to go past the niceties be brave and give me constructive tips to work on. I see this serving multiple goals in that it helps people practice another important skill for group change processes: sharing and accepting constructive feedback.

    1. Eugene Eric Kim

      This is a great thought, Rebecca. I absolutely could incorporate it into Week 6, and it would be interesting to figure out a way to incorporate it on a more regular basis.

      I was thinking that the Kangaroo Court might be a good way to do this in an informal, but ongoing basis. Thoughts?

      1. Rebecca_Petzel

        I was just thinking this morning what it might look like to incorporate the Kangaroo Court on different projects. My hypothesis is that the kangaroo court requires an underpinning of an intentional culture and a certain degree of trust. I’m not sure how easily that’s created on these types of projects where the culture is intentional, but is a one-off for most participants. We’d all been working together for at least a year when we started ours…

        I’d love it if you experimented and shared what you learned! I’m assuming it will be a bit of a challenge to really get the ball rolling and make folks comfortable with the format. But please, prove me wrong!

        1. Eugene Eric Kim

          Definitely an open question. I’m hoping that Bootcamp is not a one-off for participants, that a good percentage stay engaged after completing a session, in many cases by doing another session. But it’s interesting to ask if Kangaroo Court would have worked had we not already worked together for awhile. Natalie had just joined us when we started Kangaroo Court, and Amy and Betty were not actively engaged on Kristin’s Kitchen.

          Still, there are other challenges. We don’t have a “water cooler” here at Bootcamp. I actually set one up, but I haven’t incorporated it yet, as I want people to focus on blogging first. I thought about having bootcampers use P2 instead of this blog, and it’s something I might still try in my next iteration.


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